Monday, July 12, 2010

If You Liked the Idea of Post-Tenure Review, You'll Love 360° Reviews for Federal Judges: A Proposal

Posted by Jeff Lipshaw

David Kessler, presently a post-graduate research fellow at the Harvard Law School, let us know about his article on "professional development" for Article III judges he recently placed in the Rutgers Law Review"The More You Know: How 360-Degree Feedback Could Help Federal District Judges:"  Here's the abstract:

No formal program now exists to provide feedback to Federal district judges for purposes of their professional development. This article argues that creating such a program is both possible and beneficial because even the most capable judges could perform even more effectively if given more information about how they are performing. This article proposes the adoption of a well-known mechanism for gathering feedback in the business world, called “360-degree” feedback. In a 360-degree system, a person receives feedback from those “below” him, such as the people he manages and his customers, from his peers, and from his own managers or supervisors. Under a 360-degree feedback for the judiciary, district judges would receive feedback from the attorneys and litigants who appear before them, as well as court personnel, from other district judges, and from appellate judges. The purpose of such feedback would be performance development (helping judges become more effective) rather than performance evaluation (ranking and grading judges). The feedback, accordingly, would not be made public. In detailing how the 360-degree system would work, this article examines the current sources of feedback for district judges as well as introduces, for the first time in the judicial context, the rich academic and professional literature studying professional development in the management and business world.
Having been a senior officer in a corporation, and nevertheless subject to these kinds of reviews, I can't begin to tell you (a) what a good idea it is (b) generally, in the view of those with tenure (academic or constitutional life version), for somebody else.

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For many years, Santa Clara County Bar Association has asked its members to review the county's judges, including federal judges, and then published the results. It's not perfect but it's a great idea.

Posted by: john steele | Jul 12, 2010 8:35:19 PM

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